Title: Firenze
Author: Barry Brennessel
Cover Artist: Deanna Jamroz
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy link:
Genre: contemporary
Length: 3100 words
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Cryselle

Review Summary: A little sex with art history.


Brandon Meier’s academic year in Europe takes him far beyond museums, castles, and classrooms. When he embarks on a month-long rail journey, his sightseeing includes an edgy French boy, a Carravagio-esque Italian, a rich Swiss lad, a Croatian heartbreaker, and an Indonesian beauty in Amsterdam, to name but a few. These are lessons no textbook can ever teach.

It’s not long before Brandon realizes that the best sightseeing is almost always off the beaten path. From sultry nights in saunas, to midnight strolls in seemingly endless parks, chance encounters in sleepy seaside towns and nights of wining, dining, BMW convertibles and penthouse apartments, Brian’s year in Europe is anything but “by the textbook.”

Next stop: Firenze


Sometimes you have only five or seven minutes—this series of stories is meant to fill that need. A few thousand words isn’t much to build an entire story with, and this is really more of an interlude.

Firenze is one stop on student Brandon’s itinerary, and he isn’t in the city more than an hour before he encounters a gorgeous, willing Italian man to enliven his sightseeing. He’s not planning to be in Florence even twenty-four hours, so this is not a relationship to last. This is one in a series—Brandon’s visiting a lot of cultural centers.

We really don’t get more than the highlights of Brandon’s sightseeing and the brief tumble he takes with Stefano, who is everything Caravaggio would love in a model, from fine skin to wavy hair, and is sweet in bed. Brandon thinks of him as art more than as a person, until the very last moment.

When I say that the story is travelogue with sex, I do mean that it’s a great deal more than what I usually encounter in this microscopic size—it manages to be thoughtful about a passing encounter and not try for a grand passion in ten pages: PWP with art history does fit into the space. It’s a petit-four of a story: tasty, with layers, and a mere mouthful. And sometimes a mouthful is all you want. 3.5 stars


  • This author was my choice for Authors Who Rocked 2011. It was SO hard for me to decide on the one of my two. Mel Bossa was my close close VERY close second. I liked the Lambda finalists Tinseltown and Split so much.

    Firenze was so sweet and unusual. That strange hotel room stuck in my head forever after I read this. :scared:

    • It was unusual–not romance, but kind of romantic. Seems a shame to have less than a day in Florence though.

  • Hmmmm I wanted to try this author but while I read short stories I usually ignore short stories of such microscopic length. Interesting – need to think about this one. Thanks for the review.

    • It’s part of a series, which wouldn’t have to be read in any order if I understand rightly. I liked it.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: